Construction work begins Photo: ABC

The first 15 high quality short-stay accommodation apartments for homeless people have been delivered and installed on the former Henwood car park in Ashford.

A giant crane lifted each of the 12 tonne ‘pods’ into position on top of framework of steel podiums as the dream of creating Ashford Borough Council’s first ‘net zero carbon in operation’ council homes comes closer to reality. This is the first-of-its-kind modular development in the borough.

The council is delivering the project with ZedPods ( ), an award-winning British modular company, to design and build 23 high-quality, extremely energy efficient, factory-produced modular homes for the site.

Meanwhile, it has also been announced that the Council has been successful in bidding for financial support from Homes England for the scheme – the Government is contributing £80,000 per unit, making a total of £1,840,000 towards the scheme costs of £7.4m.

First pod to be lifted into position Photo: ABC

The quality of the homes is a standout feature of the project. Originally it was planned to use converted shipping containers but the ZedPods product is far superior because of its ‘green’ credentials – relevant to the council’s ambitions to be a Green Pioneer. The project has evolved from being basic accommodation to the modular solution that is more sustainable for the long-term.

L-R ABC Deputy Chief Executive Ben Lockwood, Zed Pods Director Rehan Khodabuccus, Cllr-Bill Barrett, ABC Cabinet Member Housing and Homelessness Photo: ABC

Cllr Bill Barrett, Portfolio Holder for Housing and Homelessness, said:

“This is an historic day for Ashford as we deliver this first-class and truly innovative project. To be able to offer those in our society a safe and secure home is essential. To be able to do so while delivering strong environmental benefits is even more attractive. I am also delighted to hear of our successful bid to Homes England to secure the grant monies that will subsidise the scheme.”

Tom Northway, Chairman of Zed Pods Limited, said:

“We are delighted to install the first batch of modules for this exemplar scheme, which has overcome challenges that most developers would have walked away from including Flood Zone 3 – Nitrate Neutrality. Not all modular companies are the same and this scheme demonstrates how Zed Pods can help unlock difficult to build brownfield sites. Working closely with the council and supply chain partners, we overcame several planning, environmental, design and operational challenges to reach this critical milestone. This pioneering project also adheres to council-specific BIM protocols, thereby becoming the first project to embrace digital construction to deliver affordable modular homes for local vulnerable households.”

The Henwood TA scheme

The 23 units of short-stay apartments will be a stepping stone until individuals or households who have become homeless are able to move-on to more permanent accommodation. Not only will the scheme make savings for the council’s General Fund over the life of the project, homeless people staying there will enjoy better living conditions.

Scheme named Fortis House

Fortis House is derived from the close proximity to Martyrs’ Field and fits with the purpose of the accommodation, a place where people can find their feet again. So while it links to past events it’s also reflective of a secure place where people can build a new life for themselves.
Fortis (Latin) = strong, brave, firm, courageous, bold.
Martyrs Field =

Zero carbon homes

These homes are highly-insulated and triple-glazed, with heat recovery ventilation and featuring 175 solar panels integrated into the roof. The fabric of the building is designed to create zero operational carbon homes with very low energy consumption and running costs. One of the benefits of using modular construction is that the disruption on site to surrounding residents and businesses during construction will be less than a traditional build.

Sense of community

The 23 self-contained homes are a mix of 13 one-bed, nine two-bed and one three-bed dwellings, to ensure a mix of individuals and families can be accommodated. This diversity will help foster a sense of community and makes the site easier to manage. There is a large enclosed communal garden and parking bays for 19 vehicles are included, including two disabled bays.

Modular build is a first for Ashford

 Each apartment is occupied by a single household, with their own front door.
 The apartments are built to meet and exceed Nationally Described Space Standards for new dwellings, people can move in with their belongings plus there is the additional space under the apartments to store items such as cycles with practical shelving / racking.
 All apartments have a private outdoor balcony.
 Landscaped gardens designed by a landscape architect to create sociable spaces and high quality outdoor green space.
 Plenty of light, the apartments are dual-aspect.
 A secure environment (meeting the police security high standard Secured-by-Design).
 Highly efficient homes with low running costs.
 These apartments are Build Off-site Property Assurance Scheme (BOPAS)-accredited meaning they will stand the test of time for at least 60 years.
 Owned and managed by Ashford Borough Council.

Flooding resilience

While sitting within a flood zone, by placing the homes on stilts and raising them to a 2.4m height means they will withstand even the most extreme 100-year climate change flooding event.
For details visit

By Ed

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